I thought more about Witchblade recently, and it's actually a lot worse than I initially thought. So here's a review that's much better and harsher than my first.
I never read any of the Witchblade comics, so I'm judging this anime solely on its own merits.
I got interested in Witchblade about a month or two before Christmas of 2009 and decided it would be a good Christmas present for myself, so I ordered it and had some family members pay me back. I was hooked into Witchblade by its pleasant imagery (I am a guy, after all) and with its many promises of it delivering a "touching, grabbing story." However, much like Elfen Lied, I was swindled by a bunch of the gushing praise that was totally based in dishonesty (a common crime committed among mainstream anime fans).
"Sought by the greed of Men since the dawn of Humankind, but only bestowed upon the woman whose fate it forever scars – The Witchblade. Is it the Righteous Sword of God, of the Hand of the Devil Himself? Now a new bearer has been chosen and she must discover the answers for herself. As she stands on the brink of destiny, she is forced to seek the balance between ecstasy and ruin…
Masane Amaha is a woman on the fringe of society, bouncing rootless from town to town with her daughter, Rihoko. She struggles to build a life for her family, with no memory of the past and no clue as to what the future holds. But upon their arrival back in Tokyo forces conspire to separate parent from child, unleashing the fury of the Witchblade. The young mother will find herself conscripted into the service of the Doji Group and hunted down by the emissaries of the NSWF, all while seeking to balance the weight of this forced duality."
-Taken from product description (too lazy to summarize plot myself)
The characters aren't done well, to put it lightly. They're victims of bad writing, since there's so much time wasted on totally unimportant characters at the expense of everything else. The main culprits of this would be Masane's apartment neighbors. They have no importance to the story yet so much time is wasted on such characters like the inverted fortune teller Naomi, a guy who says and does nothing named Michael, and the perverted old guy who's a computer hacker. It wouldn't be so bad if these characters weren't so bland. Oh look, Naomi constantly fusses over the pronunciation of her name and can't run her business well because she can't talk to people. How funny!! Apparently, the creator of this anime said something in the booklet that came with the DVD along the lines that he wanted all the characters to be relate-able so that you can follow almost anyone in the anime. Sorry, but I'd rather relate to only a handful of interesting characters than a large amount of dull ones.
Also, some characters seem to be fleshed out in pretty ridiculous fashions. For one, I think the idea of making Rihoko (Masane's supposed daughter) perfect and mature silly since while I know this isn't supposed to be 100% realistic, making a six year-old girl function like a fully matured person makes Rihoko a pretty unbelievable character, which is a bad thing for something claiming to be a character drama (which is what Witchblade claims to be). Development is pretty poorly done for some characters as well. For one, Maria (the main antagonist) suddenly develops from a whiny infantile brat into a fully matured young woman without any gradual steps between those two stages.
PLOT-HOLES/LACK OF LOGIC
While plot-holes aren't that gigantic or abundant, they're big enough to lower the rating of the show. Something that irritated me pretty badly is that one of the main focuses of this anime is of course, the Witchblade weapon. However, the Witchblade itself isn't really elaborated upon that much. Instead, we get the aforementioned redundant character interactions.
Also, the series starts off as Masane finding and killing cybernetic weapons called X-Cons. Masane joins the Doji Group, which makes the X-Cons, and has serious objections to the X-Con program, but those objections fade away without any sort of reason.
Like most popular yet poorly made anime titles, Witchblade has moments of pointless comedy thrown in solely to pad out the running length, “lighten the mood,” or add “emotional variety,” when it just degrades the quality of the show. There's a part in Witchblade where Masane spends the whole day out with Rihoko and one of the things that they do is go to a public bathhouse to relax and what could have been a touching moment was killed by a moment of stupid risque humor when the perverted old guy tries to peek in on the two bathing.
There was an episode in the series that was Masane and her neighbors just going to the beach and while that was a really bad case of general filler by itself, it had some really bad attempts at being humorous. The prime example of this would be when a bespectacled lady verbally chastises the perverted old guy for not knowing about Michael’s supposed fame, complete with the abhorrent over-exaggerated facial features that belong on generic swill like Azumanga Daioh than a serious character drama.
Because of all the filler mentioned above, this wastes a lot of time for the important parts of the story, and this causes the end of this anime to become horribly rushed and unsatisfactory. I absolutely hate it when anime titles do this.
Witchblade just barely gets a TV-MA rating for one or two moments of ultra-violence, but most of the content is barely risque, and there's blatant fan service given the Witchblade and Cloneblade designs.
As shallow as this sounds, I was pretty disappointed by the lack of action scenes in this anime since it was after all, marketed as such. The action scenes themselves are decent, though nothing special since they seem too short for their own good, though it was pretty neat to see several women in skimpy, exotic outfits slashing and beating the snot out of each other.
The animation is decent, though the artwork is what really stands out since everything looks fabulous and if you're a straight male, the Witchblades and Cloneblades are pretty fine eye-candy. Though I must object the hiring of the character designer for Love Hina to design the characters because imagine how great the Witch and Cloneblades would look if they were designed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who makes some of the best-looking female characters in anime. The use of colors in general was also very eye-catching and pleasing.
However, quality animation, artwork, and eye-candy alone don't make a good anime.
POTENTIALLY GOOD STUFF
There were some moments of squandered potential here. I found the themes of “being consumed by the dark side” and the mother-daughter relationship pretty interesting and in the case of the latter, touching at times. I did feel a little sad in some areas, particularly when Masane tells Rihoko to live with Reina Soho (her real mother), but realizes how much she misses her once she's gone, along with the moment towards the end when Masane converses with Rihoko about death and what will happen once she dies. However, these feel like manipulative actions at the behest of the animators in an attempt to make you forget about the show's blatant shortcomings, and I'm not going to fall for it.
This is another bad anime that relies on emotional manipulation and some eye candy to “wow” the audience rather than coherent, logical storytelling, and these types of actions really infuriate me.
As someone who puts logic and proper story and character development before anything else, Witchblade really got on my nerves after thinking about it some more.
Watch these anime titles instead that are much superior:
Serial Experiments Lain
Shigurui: Death Frenzy
Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne
Voice of a Distant Star
Leave Witchblade on the store shelf.
What did you think of this review?